Review: ‘Flamenco Inheritance’

Dazzling musical artistry across four generations enlivens "Flamenco Inheritance," Michael Meert's documentary on Ketama, the band that comes out of one of Spain's foremost flamenco dynasties. Star-struck to the point of hagiography, pic never scrapes beneath the surface, but the electrifying music makes it worthwhile nonetheless, particularly for lovers of flamenco in its lighter forms.

Dazzling musical artistry across four generations enlivens “Flamenco Inheritance,” Michael Meert’s documentary on Ketama, the band that comes out of one of Spain’s foremost flamenco dynasties. Star-struck to the point of hagiography, pic never scrapes beneath the surface, but the electrifying music makes it worthwhile nonetheless, particularly for lovers of flamenco in its lighter forms. Music-friendly sidebars might cock an ear, with tube pickups a certainty.

Pic follows Ketama around on a tour bus, taking regular deviations into family history. The boys’ great-grandfather sold tripe for a living, and there is much emphasis on the poverty of their gypsy background. Pic also charts the band’s controversial move into non-purist electric music and spends time with the women of the family, time which might have been spent more valuably elsewhere. Old footage and some of the rehearsal scenes are terrific, but pic strokes its subject matter rather than probing it. Issues such as the tensions that must exist to generate such fine work are never addressed. Standout sequence is a haunting, night-time flamenco performance given in a cave in Granada’s Sacramonte district.

Flamenco Inheritance

Germany-Spain

Production

A DocFilm release (in Spain) of a Lichtblick Film production with the participation of WDR/Arte, TVE. Produced by Carl-Ludwig Rettinger. Directed, written by Michael Meert.

Crew

Camera (color), Alfonso Sanz, Cesar Hernando, Claus Deuble; editor, Martin Kayser-Landwehr; music, Ketama, Juan Habichuela, Pepe Habichuela. Reviewed at Cine Acteon, Madrid, June 2, 2005. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Juan Carmona, Antonio Carmona, Jose Miguel Carmona, Juan Habichuela, Pepe Habichuela.
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